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Largest ever study reveals globally protected areas benefit broad range of species

Credit: University of Sussex

Swansea University scientists have been involved in a collaborative study which reveals for the first time that the world’s protected areas do benefit a broad range of species

The study, published in Nature Communications, led by the University of Sussex working together with the Natural History Museum, the UNEP - World Conservation Monitoring Centre and Swansea University, is the largest ever analysis of globally protected areas.

By analysing biodiversity samples taken from 1,939 sites inside and 4,592 sites outside 359 protected areas, scientists have discovered the protected area samples contain 15 percent more individuals and 11 percent more species compared to samples from unprotected sites.

Protected areas are considered a quintessential measure for biodiversity conservation and many nations have committed to increase them to cover at least 17% of the terrestrial area (‘Aichi biodiversity targets’ of the Convention on Biological Diversity). It was hence timely to carry out a comprehensive global evaluation of the effectiveness of protected areas.

– Associate Professor Luca Börger , Swansea University

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Drones used to map churchyards

St Nicholas' Church in the Vale of Glamorgan is one site. Credit: The Church in Wales

Churches are turning to modern technology to help manage their centuries-old churchyards.

For hundreds of years, the maintenance of burial records has been confined to written registers and books, together with hand drawn maps and plans – but that’s about to change.

In a pilot project for Llandaff Diocese, four parishes are trying out aerial drones, as part of a new mapping system, so people can find graves more easily.

Images taken by the drones will be combined with photographs of headstones and scans of handwritten records.

The main aim of the system is to make churchyards more easily manageable for parishes but it will also provide a vehicle for historical information and allow easy access to family history.

The use of drones in the survey has the added benefit of enabling us to check the condition of our church buildings without having to erect scaffolding.

– Sarah Perons, Care of Churches Advisor

Welsh dinosaur 'comes back to life'

Dracoraptor lived 201 million years ago. Credit: National Museum of Wales

A life-size reconstruction of the Welsh dinosaur goes on display today at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff.

The bones of Dracoraptor hanigani (meaning dragon robber) were discovered in 2014 at Lavernock beach near Penarth in South Wales by brothers Nick and Rob Hanigan. The creature was a small meat eating animal the size of a large dog and a distant cousin ofT.rex.

Bob Nicholls a Bristol–based palaeo-artist was commissioned to make the life-sized model. Scientists believe the body might have been covered in a feathery down, and possibly with quills along its back and these were applied to the surface of the model.

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